I don’t think I ought to be let out without supervision. I have realised that most of the time I have no idea what sort of impression I’m making on people, and it is somewhat disconcerting when I suddenly have to face the possibility that my intentions have been completely misjudged.
Flirting is an area of human interaction that really needs a clearer set of rules and, in fact, ought to be accompanied by an explanatory leaflet. I don’t even know whether what I consider to be a decent illustration to go with the tag-line “This is me flirting” is actually perceived as flirting by anyone else. However, I do seem to get myself into trouble over this sometimes, which is why I feel the need to put some sort of a “users guide” here, so that interested parties at least have a chance at finding the information.
Just as a public service, then:
1. If I do something that can be construed as flirting recklessly with you, it means I like you and feel at ease in your company. However, it also means that there is very little chance that I am in any way interested in you “romantically”.
2. If I don’t flirt with you there are several possibilities:
A. You’re a girl (sorry, not interested apparently).
B. I don’t actually like you all that much.
C. I think you’re OK, but don’t feel enough at ease in your company, for one or more of various reasons.
D. I really, really like you.
So, how do you know if it’s 2A, 2B, 2C or 2D? Well, ok, if it’s 2A you really should be able to figure it out without my help. Unless the reason I don’t like you is that you’re thick, 2B should normally be apparent from my behaviour in general. I do try to behave civilly to people I don’t like, but I won’t go out of my way to talk to them. 2C and 2D are the tricky ones, and also the interesting ones, I guess. If there’s an obvious reason why I wouldn’t feel entirely at ease around you, should you happen to be my boss, for example, it’s most probably 2C. In fact, it’s most probably 2C in any case, I don’t have anything resembling crushes all that often. However, lets expand on 2D, as there is, obviously, a reason why I’m onto this theme right now.
I recently found myself doing the flirting thing (1). With hindsight I can point to several counterproductive effects. One, naturally, was the suspicion that the person I was flirting with might not realise how completely uninterested I need to be to be able to flirt and might, reasonably, come to a conclusion that I am interested. The other, which concerns me somewhat more, was that another person, whom I might or might not be interested in, was present and might come to the same conclusion, viz. that I am interested in the other guy and not in him.
Very messy. There’s some sort of logic in it, though: I don’t feel comfortable flirting with X because I suspect I might mean it seriously, but if Y – uncomplicated and risk-free – is present, I flirt “by proxy”.
Several other people have been present at various times, too, but they are mostly of the borderline 1/2c category (and which one can actually vary from date to day depending on how I feel and the general setting of our interaction), and so do not matter quite so much.
The reasons why I don’t flirt with people in the 2D category are really very simple. I get self-conscious. I am afraid of committing myself one way or the other until I have a firm idea of whether I am really interested or not. I don’t want to risk something that could be a great friendship by pushing ahead before I know my own mind (especially as 2D turns to 1 in the majority of cases, and I’ll always need friends more than ex-boyfriends).
While we’re on the subject: Things that would automatically exclude you from category 2D:
– you’re in a relationship already (that I know of). It’s an instant turn-off.
– you smoke cigarettes or use snuff (yuck, yuck and double-yuck).
– you’re thick, wilfully ignorant or both ignorant and arrogant (or other expansions along those lines).
– you’re shorter than me (sorry).
– you have no sense of humour.
For further details please see “21 things I want in a lover”, which is pretty descriptive.
Just to further confuse things, I do occasionally come to a potential 3, after a prolonged period of 2D. Once I have decided that I am actually interested, I may start to flirt with you after all. However, I am more likely to say something along the line of “How about it, then?”, I can be as candid as the next girl.
I will just have to hope that you’re still there when I get to that point and haven’t been discouraged beyond recall by my erratic behaviour.